Nommo and the Bible
A Comparison and Contrast of the Character Names in The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingslover writes a book entitled, The Poisonwood Bible that explore the effects one culture has on another. The four daughters; Rachel, Leah, Adah, and Ruth May, at birth are given names suitable and fitting to their personalities, as well as new Kikongo names which describe the girls’ attitudes towards the people in the Congo. A principal of the Congolese belief system, suggests that the girls have grown into their names, causing their specific type of people interaction.
The eldest daughter of the four is Rachel Price. In the Bible, the person named Rachel is described as more beautiful than her sister Leah (Genesis Ch. 29-35). In the Poisonwood Bible, Rachel Price is the most appealing than the other three siblings. Rachel’s Kikongo name is Mvula, which refers to a pale white termite that only comes out after it rains. Back home, Rachel was beautiful and her pale skin was desirable. Now, Tata Ndu (chief of the village) wanted to marry Rachel because her skin is ugly to the Congolese women causing his wives to feel better about themselves. Rachel Price did not want to be around the Congolese people, and stayed inside her house snuggled up with her own vanity. Leah and Adah Price are twins and the middle children of the family in the Poisonwood Bible. Leah, in the Bible, was tricked into marrying the man Rachel loved by their evil father (Genesis 29: 21-28). In both instances, Rachel and Leah were deceived by their father causing them to become unable of having a true sisterly bond with one another. In Kikongo, Leah is called Leba, meaning “fig tree” (148). The Congolese do Leah a favor by not calling her Leah, because the Kikongo translation for Leah means “nothing much” (148). Anatole has special names for all the girls and he calls Leah "beene-beene" which means "the truest truth" (396). It is clear he has respect for Leah.
“Benduka” is Adah Price’s...
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